The narcissist

The narcissist DEFAULT

How to Spot the Narcissists in Your Life

Just about all of us show some narcissistic traits, some of the time—we crave attention, put our own needs first, or think we are special. Teenagers in particular can be narcissistic—it’s part of their growth process.

But most of the time, most of us can empathize with others, admit our mistakes, and keep our achievements in perspective. This is not the case with people who have narcissistic personality disorder—they are excessively self-involved, and they disregard other people’s needs.

Srinivas Dannaram, MD, a psychiatrist with Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, AZ, said that in people with narcissistic personality disorder, you’ll see these traits, which are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):

  • They think highly of themselves, exaggerate achievements, and expect to be recognized as superior
  • They fantasize about their own success, power, brilliance, beauty or perfect love
  • They believe they are special and only other special people (or institutions) can understand them
  • They demand admiration
  • They feel entitled and expect favorable treatment
  • They take advantage of others
  • They lack empathy and don’t try to identify with the needs of others
  • They envy others, or believe others envy them
  • They are arrogant

In a subtype of narcissistic personality disorder, categorized as “vulnerable,” people can be hypersensitive and defensive. “The vulnerable subtype is often easy to miss,” Dr. Dannaram said.

How to spot a narcissist

Get together a group of 16 people and, odds are, one of them is a narcissist. One study found that 6.2 percent of people in the U.S. have narcissistic personality disorder at some point in their lives.

If you know someone who’s a narcissist, you’ll probably see that they struggle in their relationships. “People with this disorder want their way,” Dr. Dannaram said. “They can make others furious by the refusal to obey conventional rules of behavior.”

It’s common for them to exploit the people they’re close to. They aren’t capable of empathy, but they can feign sympathy, and will sometimes do so to get what they want. They expect special treatment, because they consider themselves superior to others. They handle criticism poorly, so they might get enraged when someone criticizes them, or they might act indifferent to criticism. They can be ambitious; striving for the fame or fortune they believe they deserve.

They may appear confident and secure, but underneath that façade they are fragile, so they can be susceptible to depression, anxiety, self-harm, and substance abuse. And their behavior can lead to interpersonal difficulties, problems at work, rejection and loss.

Who’s likely to be a narcissist?

Narcissism is more common in men than in women, and genetics may play a role in who develops the disorder. People who develop narcissistic personality disorder tend to show some signs as young children: They can be aggressive, tolerate distress poorly, struggle to regulate their emotions and have fragile egos.

Being rejected as a child, or being excessively praised as a child, could also lead to narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissism is tough to treat

“According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, there’s no standardized pharmacological or psychological treatment for people with a narcissistic personality disorder,” Dr. Dannaram said. And many narcissists don’t seek help since they don’t recognize their behavior as a problem. Those who do look for support might try:

  • Transference-focused therapy, which is twice-a-week therapy where a person with narcissism expresses their emotions toward the therapist. Since people with narcissistic personality disorder can be provoked by how they feel others’ treat them, it’s essential for them to examine their own feelings towards other people, according to the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.
  • Schema-focused therapy, a relatively new therapy that focuses on alternate forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy, including activating emotional senses, according to the German Journal Progress in Neurology-Psychiatry.
  • Treatment of other conditions, including anxiety, depression, disproportionate mood highs and lows, transient psychosis, and impulse control issues.
  • Medications including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.

The bottom line

Narcissistic personality disorder is common, and people with it often struggle with their relationships and with other mental health conditions. If you think you or someone you love may show signs of narcissism, a mental health professional can help. To connect with a behavioral health specialist, visit bannerhealth.com.

For more mental health information, check out:

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How to Recognize Someone With Covert Narcissism

Most of the time, it is easy to spot the narcissist in the room. They are the ones who are working the crowd, loudly sharing fabulous stories that convey a sense of importance and accomplishment so that they can feel admired. Someone behaving like this tends to send out a clear signal to those around them that they are not approachable or compassionate.

Could there be other people in the room with those same exaggerated motivations for admiration and importance, yet possibly harder to identify? Yes, in fact, there could be someone close to you who is a narcissist but shows up in less obvious ways.

What Are Narcissistic Traits?

Common narcissistic traits include having a strong sense of self-importance, experiencing fantasies about fame or glory, exaggerating self abilities, craving admiration, exploiting others, and lacking empathy.

What Is Narcissism?

The word narcissist is a term regularly used in common discussions to describe anyone who seems a bit self-involved. However, in terms of clinical mental health, someone needs to meet a specific criterion in order to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

Traits

In general, people with narcissistic personality disorder are those who are preoccupied with their own success and with a grand sense of self-importance that influences their decision-making and interactions.

Narcissists find it difficult to build or maintain connections with others because of their manipulative tendencies and lack of empathy. They often feel entitled and lack compassion, yet crave attention and admiration. Here are some elements of narcissism.

  • Having a sense of self-importance or grandiosity
  • Experiencing fantasies about being influential, famous, and/or important
  • Exaggerating their abilities, talents, and accomplishments
  • Craving admiration and acknowledgment
  • Being preoccupied with beauty, love, power, and/or success
  • Having an exaggerated sense of being unique
  • Believing that the world owes them something
  • Exploiting others to get what they want (no matter how it impacts others)
  • Lacking empathy toward others

What Is a Covert Narcissist?

In the field of psychology, behavior can be described as overt or covert. Overt behaviors are those that can be easily observed by others, such as those of the traditional narcissist described earlier. Covert behaviors, however, are those that are more subtle and a bit less obvious to others.

A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance as well as lacks empathy toward others but can act in a different way than an overt narcissist.

When considering the behavior of narcissists, it might be hard to imagine how someone could be a narcissist and be inhibited in their approach and behavior. A covert narcissist may be outwardly self-effacing or withdrawn in their approach, but the end goals are the same.

For example, this might be described as listening to your favorite song while blasting the volume, compared to listening to that same song on a low volume. The song itself hasn't changed, just the volume in which you are listening.

Click Play to Learn More About Covert Narcissism

Overt vs. Covert

Covert narcissists are only different from overt (more obvious) narcissists in that they tend to be more introverted. The overt narcissist is easily identified because they tend to be loud, arrogant, and insensitive to the needs of others and always thirsty for compliments.

Their behaviors can be easily observed by others and tend to show up as "big" in a room. When we think of an overt narcissist, we could say they demonstrate more extroverted behaviors in their interactions with others.

Researcher and author Craig Malkin, PhD suggests that the term "covert" can be misleading. In his work he states that the term covert is often used to suggest that the covert narcissist is sneaky or that their strive for importance is not as significant as an overt (more extroverted) narcissist. In fact, he reports, the traits of the overt narcissist and the covert narcissist are the same.

Both covert and overt narcissists navigate the world with a sense of self-importance and fantasizing about success and grandeur.

Both individuals need to meet the same clinical criteria to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, whether they are extroverted or introverted. Both have deficits in their capacity to regulate their self-esteem.

Many people have fallen victim to the manipulative behaviors of a covert narcissist without realizing what has happened until they are already in emotional pain. It might be more accurate to suggest that the extroverted (overt) narcissist would be a lot easier to see coming than the introverted (covert) narcissist.

It is not unusual for people to find themselves in long-term relationships with covert narcissists only to be hurt by a sense of a lack of partnership or reciprocity in the relationship.

Signs to Look For

Although there are some clinical criteria that need to be met in order for someone to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, there are some general traits and patterns to look for in everyday interactions if you suspect you might be dealing with a covert narcissist.

Being aware of these traits can help empower those who are interacting with the covert narcissist, helping them to recognize and better navigate potentially unhealthy interactions.

Passive Self-Importance

Where the more overt, extroverted narcissist will be obvious in their elevated sense of self and their arrogance when interacting with others, the covert narcissist may be less obvious.

The covert narcissist certainly craves importance and thirsts for admiration but it can look different to those around them. They might give back-handed compliments, or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.

The reality for both the overt and covert narcissist is that they have a fragile sense of self.

The overt narcissist will demand admiration and attention, where the covert narcissist will use softer tactics to meet those same goals. The covert narcissist will be much more likely to constantly seek reassurance about their talents, skills, and accomplishments, looking for others to feed that same need for self-importance.

Blaming and Shaming

Shaming others is a wonderful tactic of the narcissist in order to secure their sense of an elevated position in relation to others. The overt (extroverted) narcissist might be more obvious in their approach to gaining leverage, such as explicitly putting you down, being rude, criticizing you, and being sarcastic.

The introverted, covert narcissist may have a more gentle approach to explain why something is your fault and they are not to blame. They might even pretend to be a victim of your behavior or engage in emotional abuse to put themselves in a position to receive reassurance and praise from you. At the end of these interactions, the goal of the narcissist is to make the other person feel small.

Creating Confusion

Although not always sneaky, some covert narcissists can take joy in creating confusion for someone they are interacting with. They may not engage in blaming or shaming, but instead, causing people to question their perceptions and second-guess themselves.

Another way to create leverage between them and another person, the covert narcissist needs to use tactics like this to elevate themselves and maintain power in the interaction. If they can get you to question your perceptions, then this allows them the opportunity to manipulate and exploit you more.

Procrastination and Disregard

Because their need for self-importance reigns supreme, covert narcissists will do whatever they need to do in order to keep the focus on themselves. So, where an extroverted narcissist will blatantly push you aside or manipulate you to accomplish their goal, the covert narcissist is a professional at not acknowledging you at all.

It is not a coincidence that narcissists, in general, tend to gravitate toward interacting with caring and compassionate people. The covert narcissist recognizes those opportunities for manipulation as well.

They have no problem letting you know that you are not important.

Rather than explicitly telling you that you're not important, they might stand you up on a date, wait until the last minute to respond to texts or emails, always show up late for events with you, or never make confirmed plans with you at all. There is no regard for your time or interests, leaving you feeling small, unimportant, and irrelevant.

Emotionally Neglectful

Narcissists are inept at building and nurturing emotional bonds with others. How could they know how to do maintain bonds with others if their energy is always focused on themselves? The covert narcissist is no different. So, although they may appear kinder and less obnoxious than their extroverted counterpart, they are not emotionally accessible or responsive either.

You will likely not receive many compliments from a covert narcissist. Remembering that they are always focused on staying elevated to maintain their sense of self-importance, it is easy to understand how a covert narcissist would find it difficult to compliment you. There is usually little regard for your talents or abilities—usually, the narcissist has no regard for these things at all.

Just as with overt narcissists, you will likely find yourself doing most of the heavy emotional lifting in a relationship with the covert narcissists. Although the covert is more likely to appear emotionally accessible, it tends to be a performance and usually done with intent to exploit or eventually leave the person feeling small through disregard, blaming, or shaming.

Since one of the hallmark traits of narcissistic personality disorder is lack of empathy, the covert narcissist is not going to be emotionally responsive to their partner in a healthy way.

Giving With a Goal

In general, narcissists are not givers. They find it difficult to put energy into anything that doesn't serve them in some way. A covert narcissist might present themselves in a way that looks like they are giving, but their giving behavior is only demonstrated with the intent of getting something in return.

A simple, everyday example could be something like putting a tip in the jar at your local coffee shop. A covert narcissist would be much more likely to put their tip in the jar when they know the barista is looking, in order to help facilitate some kind of interaction that allows them to be praised for giving.

The intent of giving for a covert narcissist is always more about them and less about those to whom they are giving.

What to Do

You may currently be in a personal relationship with a covert narcissist, whether it be a family member, a coworker, or your significant other. It may be helpful to note that although we cannot control with the narcissist does, we can take control of how we are behaving and interacting with them. There are certain steps that you can take to protect yourself if having to deal with a covert narcissist.

Avoid Taking It Personally

When we are dealing with a narcissist, whether covert or overt, their manipulative behavior can feel very personal. The lack of regard, sense of entitlement, patterns of manipulation, and deceptive behaviors of a narcissist can feel very personal when we are on the receiving end of their ways.

No matter how painful the impact of the behaviors of a narcissist might feel in the moment, it is important to remember that it has nothing to do with you.

The narcissist is behaving in negative ways because of something unhealthy within them, not because there is something unhealthy about you.

It is okay to look at the situation and the interactions in regard to how you contribute to them. However, it is very important when dealing with a narcissist that you let them "own" their part.

The narcissist wants you to take it personally because that is how they maintain leverage. Remember, a narcissist feels small, so they have to make themselves "big" somehow.

Set Boundaries

Narcissists do not have healthy boundaries. Because covert narcissists lack empathy, have a strong sense of entitlement and exploit others, boundaries are something that get in the way of their goals. The more you can practice setting boundaries with the narcissist, the more consistently you are conveying to them that their tactics are not working.

Setting boundaries can be very difficult, especially if you have never done that before. Not only is it possibly unfamiliar to you, but setting boundaries with a covert narcissist can be pretty intimidating.

Remember that boundaries are just a way for you to let someone else know what your values are. Consider what is important to you, what your values are, and work to create boundaries to support them.

Understanding why you are setting particular boundaries can help you have more confidence in establishing them and can keep you on track if a narcissist attempts to violate or disregard your boundaries.

Advocate for Yourself

When interacting with a covert narcissist, it can be easy to lose your voice. Because the patterns of interaction are so manipulative, it may take time for you to realize that the relationship left you in this place of not knowing how to advocate for yourself.

Take time to tune back in with yourself, who you are, what you are about, your values, your goals, and your talents. Strengthening your relationship with yourself is key in being able to speak up during interactions with a narcissist.

When advocating for yourself, the narcissist gets a chance to meet the part of you that is aware and knowledgeable of their tactics, making it less appealing for them to keep trying those things with you.

Create a Healthy Distance

Being in a relationship with a covert narcissist can feel frustrating and overwhelming. There are times when it can be difficult to create distance between you and that person, such as with a family member or coworker. However, there might be opportunities for you to create some healthy distance between you and the narcissist.

Limiting personal interactions, asking to be moved to a different location in your office, taking breaks at a different time, or simply cutting off contact might be what is necessary if you are feeling hurt by someone's narcissism. Remember the goal of creating distance is not to hurt the person who is narcissistic. The goal is to protect yourself and create space for you to heal.

What Is a Malignant Narcissist?

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  2. Caligor E, Levy KN, Yeomans FE. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Diagnostic and Clinical Challenges. Am J Psychiatry. 2015;172(5):415-422. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14060723

  3. Baskin-Sommers A, Krusemark E, Ronningstam E. Empathy in narcissistic personality disorder: from clinical and empirical perspectives. Personal Disord. 2014;5(3):323-333. doi:10.1037/per0000061

  4. Mccullough ME, Emmons RA, Kilpatrick SD, Mooney CN. Narcissists as "Victims": The Role of Narcissism in the Perception of Transgressions. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2003;29(7):885-893. doi:10.1177/0146167203029007007

  5. Kacel EL, Ennis N, Pereira DB. Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Clinical Health Psychology Practice: Case Studies of Comorbid Psychological Distress and Life-Limiting Illness. Behav Med. 2017;43(3):156-164. doi:10.1080/08964289.2017.1301875

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11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out

Narcissistic personality disorder isn’t the same as self-confidence or being self-absorbed.

When someone posts one too many selfies or flex pics on their dating profile or talks about themselves constantly during a first date, we might call them a narcissist.

But a true narcissist is someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It’s a mental health condition characterized by:

  • an inflated
    sense of importance
  • a deep need for
    excessive attention and admiration
  • lack of empathy
    for others
  • often having troubled
    relationships

What it boils down to, says licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC, is selfishness at the (usually extreme) expense of others, plus the inability to consider others’ feelings at all.

NPD, like most mental health or personality disorders, isn’t black and white. “Narcissism falls on a spectrum,” explains Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”

The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, but it specifies that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist.

That said, knowing the “official” diagnostic criteria doesn’t usually make it easier to spot a narcissist, especially when you’re romantically involved with one. It’s usually not possible to determine if someone has NPD without the diagnosis of a qualified expert.

Plus, when someone is wondering if they’re dating a narcissist, they generally aren’t thinking, “Do they have NPD?” They’re wondering if how they’re being treated is healthy and sustainable in the long-run. Please avoid diagnosing your partner in conversation. Rather, read on to gain some insight into the health of your relationship.

You’re here because you’re concerned, and that concern is valid if your health is at stake. If you think these signs fit, we’ll also give you tips on how to handle the situation.

1. They were charming AF… at first

It started as a fairy tale. Maybe they texted you constantly, or told you they loved you within the first month — something experts refer to as “love bombing.”

Maybe they tell you how smart you are or emphasize how compatible you are, even if you’ve just started seeing each other.

“Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones who can appreciate them fully,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, founder of Kaleidoscope Counseling in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But as soon as you do something that disappoints them, they could turn on you.

And usually you’ll have no idea of exactly what you did, says Tawwab. “How narcissists treat you, or when they turn on you, actually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own [beliefs].”

Weiler’s advice: If someone came on too strong at the beginning, be wary. Sure, we all love to feel lusted for. But real love has to be nurtured and grown.

“If you think it’s too early for them to really love you, it probably is. Or if you feel like they don’t know enough about you to actually love you, they probably don’t,” Weiler says. People with NPD will try to manufacture superficial connections early on in a relationship.

2. They hog the conversation, talking about how great they are

“Narcissists love to constantly talk about their own accomplishments and achievements with grandiose,” says psychotherapist Jacklyn Krol, LCSW, of Mind Rejuvenation Therapy. “They do this because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it helps them create an appearance of being self-assured.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Angela Grace, PhD, MEd, BFA, BEd, adds that narcissists will often exaggerate their accomplishments and embellish their talents in these stories in order to gain adoration from others.

They’re also too busy talking about themselves to listen to you. The warning is two-part here, says Grace. First, your partner won’t stop talking about themselves, and second, your partner won’t engage in conversation about you.

Ask yourself: What happens when you do talk about yourself? Do they ask follow-up questions and express interest to learn more about you? Or do they make it about them?

3. They feed off your compliments

Narcissists may seem like they’re super self-confident. But according to Tawwab, most people with NPD actually lack self-esteem.

“They need a lot of praise, and if you’re not giving it to them, they’ll fish for it,” she says. That’s why they’re constantly looking at you to tell them how great they are.

“Narcissists use other people — people who are typically highly empathic — to supply their sense of self-worth, and make them feel powerful. But because of their low self-esteem, their egos can be slighted very easily, which increases their need for compliments,” adds Shirin Peykar, LMFT.

People-reading tip: Folks who are actually self-confident won’t solely rely on you, or anyone else, to feel good about themselves.

“The main difference between folks who are confident and those with NPD is that narcissists need others to lift them up, and lift themselves up only by putting others down. Two things people with high self-confidence do not do,” Peykar says.

As Weiler explains it, “Narcissists punish everyone around them for their lack of self-confidence.”

4. They lack empathy

Lack of empathy, or the ability to feel how another person is feeling, is one of the hallmark characteristics of a narcissist, Walfish says.

“Narcissists lack the skill to make you feel seen, validating, understood, or accepted because they don’t grasp the concept of feelings,” she says.

Translation: They don’t do emotion that belongs to others.

Does your partner care when you’ve had a bad day at work, fight with your best friend, or scuffle with your parents? Or do they get bored when you express the things making you mad and sad?

Walfish says that this inability to empathize, or even sympathize, is often the reason why many, if not all, narcissists’ relationships eventually collapse, whether they’re romantic or not.

5. They don’t have any (or many) long-term friends

Most narcissists won’t have any long-term, real friends. Dig deeper into their connections and you may notice that they only have casual acquaintances, buddies they trash-talk, and nemeses.

As a result, they might lash out when you want to hang out with yours. They might claim that you don’t spend enough time with them, make you feel guilty for spending time with your friends, or berate you for the types of friends you have.

6. They pick on you constantly

Maybe at first it felt like teasing…. but then it got mean or became constant.

Suddenly, everything you do, from what you wear and eat to who you hang out with and what you watch on TV, is a problem for them.

“They’ll put you down, call you names, hit you with hurtful one-liners, and make jokes that aren’t quite funny,” Peykar says. “Their goal is to lower other’s self-esteem so that they can increase their own, because it makes them feel powerful.”

What’s more, reacting to what they say only reinforces their behavior. “A narcissist loves a reaction,” Peykar says. That’s because it shows them that they have the power to affect another’s emotional state.

A warning sign: If they knock you down with insults when you do something worth celebrating, get away. “A narcissist might say ‘You were able to do that because I didn’t sleep well’ or some excuse to make it seem like you have an advantage that they didn’t have,” Tawwab says.

They want you to know that you’re not better than them. Because, to them, nobody is.

7. They gaslight you

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse, and it’s a hallmark of narcissism. Narcissists may spew blatant lies, falsely accuse others, spin the truth, and ultimately distort your reality.

Signs of gaslighting include the following:

  • You no longer feel like the person you used to
    be.
  • You feel more anxious and less confident than
    you used to be.
  • You often wonder if you’re being too sensitive.
  • You feel like everything you do is wrong.
  • You always think it’s your fault when things go
    wrong.
  • You’re apologizing often.
  • You have a sense that something’s wrong, but
    aren’t able to identify what it is.
  • You often question whether your response to your
    partner is appropriate.
  • You make excuses for your partner’s behavior.

“They do this to cause others to doubt themselves as a way to gain superiority. Narcissists thrive off of being worshipped, so they use manipulation tactics to get you to do just that,” Peykar says.

8. They dance around defining the relationship

There are thousands of reasons someone might not want to label your relationship. Maybe they’re polyamorous, you’ve both agreed to a friends-with-benefits situation, or you’re simply keeping it casual.

But if your partner is exhibiting some of the other symptoms on this list and won’t commit, it’s likely a red flag.

Some narcissists will expect you to treat them like they’re your partner so they can reap the intimate, emotional, and sexual benefits while also keeping an eye out for prospects who they deem superior.

In fact, you may notice that your partner flirts with or looks at others in front of you, your family, or your friends, says therapist April Kirkwood, LPC, author of “Working My Way Back to Me: A Frank Memoir of Self-Discovery.”

“If you speak up and own your feelings about their disrespect, they will blame you for causing a fuss, call you crazy, and use it as further reason not to commit fully to you. If you don’t say a word, [that also gives a] non-spoken message that you don’t deserve to be respected,” she says.

If it sounds like a lose-lose situation, that’s because it is. But remember that you deserve someone who is as committed to you as you are to them.

9. They think they’re right about everything… and never apologize

Fighting with a narcissist feels impossible.

“There is no debating or compromising with a narcissist, because they are always right,” Tawwab says. “They won’t necessarily see a disagreement as a disagreement. They’ll just see it as them teaching you some truth.”

According to Peykar, you may be dating a narcissist if you feel like your partner:

  • doesn’t hear
    you
  • won’t
    understand you
  • doesn’t take
    responsibility for their part in the issue
  • doesn’t ever
    try to compromise

While ending the relationship is the best game plan with a narcissist, Weiler advises on avoiding negotiation and arguments. “It will make you feel crazy. The thing that drives a narcissist crazy is the lack of control and the lack of a fight. The less you fight back, the less power you can give them over you, the better,” she says.

And because they never think they’re wrong, they never apologize. About anything.

This inability to apologize could reveal itself in situations where your partner is obviously at fault, like:

  • showing up for
    a dinner reservation late
  • not calling
    when they said they would
  • canceling
    important plans last minute, like meeting your parents or friends

Good partners are able to recognize when they’ve done something wrong and apologize for it.

10. They panic when you try to break up with them

As soon as you back away, a narcissist will try that much harder to keep you in their lives.

“At first, they may love-bomb you. They’ll say all the right things to make you think they have changed,” Peykar says.

But soon enough, they’ll show you they never actually changed. And because of this, many narcissists find themselves in on-again, off-again romantic relationships until they find someone else to date.

11. … and when you show them you’re really done, they lash out

If you insist that you’re done with the relationship, they’ll make it their goal to hurt you for abandoning them, Peykar says.

“Their ego is so severely bruised that it causes them to feel rage and hatred for anyone who ‘wronged’ them. That’s because everything is everyone else’s fault. Including the breakup,” she says.

The result? They might bad-mouth you to save face. Or they might start immediately dating someone else to make you feel jealous and help heal their ego. Or they’ll try to steal your friends.

The reason, says Tawwab, is because a good reputation means everything to them, and they won’t let anyone or anything interfere with it.

OK, so you’re dating a narcissist… now what?

If you’re in a relationship with someone with NPD, chances are you’ve already experienced quite a bit.

Being in a relationship with someone who’s always criticizing, belittling, gaslighting, and not committing to you is emotionally exhausting. That’s why, for your own sanity, experts recommend to GTFO.

“You cannot change a person with narcissistic personality disorder or make them happy by loving them enough or by changing yourself to meet their whims and desires. They will never be in tune with you, never empathic to your experiences, and you will always feel empty after an interaction with them,” Grace says.

“Narcissists can’t feel fulfilled in relationships, or in any area of their lives, because nothing is ever special enough for them,” she adds.

Essentially, you’ll never be enough for them, because they’re never enough for themselves.

“The best thing you can do is cut ties. Offer them no explanation. Offer no second chance. Break up with them and offer no second, third, or fourth chance,” Grace says.

Because a narcissist will most likely make attempts at contacting you and harassing you with calls or texts once they’ve fully processed the rejection, Krol recommends blocking them to help you stick with your decision.

Remember: This article isn’t meant to diagnose your partner. It’s meant to outline unacceptable behaviors and reactions in the context of a loving, equitable partnership. None of these signs point to a healthy relationship, NPD or not.

And having one or six of these signs doesn’t make your partner a narcissist. Rather, it’s good cause for reevaluating whether or not you’re thriving in your relationship. You’re not responsible for their behavior, but you are responsible for taking care of yourself.


Gabrielle Kassel is a rugby-playing, mud-running, protein-smoothie-blending, meal-prepping, CrossFitting, New York–based wellness writer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drunk, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal, all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or practicing hygge. Follow her on Instagram.

Sours: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/am-i-dating-a-narcissist
‘The Narcissist Will Never Hoover Me’ (Fancy a Chat?)

Narcissism

Personality trait of self-love of a perceived perfect self

For other uses, see Narcissism (disambiguation).

Narcissism is a self-centered personality style characterized as having an excessive interest in one's physical appearance and an excessive pre-occupation with one's own needs, often at the expense of others.[1][2]

It is human nature to be selfish and boastful to a certain degree and there is a significant difference between being narcissist and self-absorbed and those having a mental illness or the pathology of narcissistic personality disorder.[3]

Etymology[edit]

The myth of Sisyphustells about a man punished for his hubristicbelief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus himself. He has to push a stone up a mountain each day, only to have to recommence the task on the next day.

The term "narcissism" comes from a first century (written in the year 8 AD) book by the Roman poet Ovid. Metamorphoses Book III is a myth about two main characters, Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus is a handsome young man who spurns the advances of many potential lovers. When Narcissus rejects the nymph Echo, named this way because she was cursed to only echo the sounds that others made, the gods punish him by making him fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. When Narcissus discovers that the object of his love cannot love him back, he slowly pines away and dies.[4]

The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. In ancient Greece, the concept was understood as hubris. It is only since the late 1800s that narcissism has been defined in psychological terms:[5]

  • Havelock Ellis (1898) was the first psychologist to use the term when he linked the myth to the condition in one of his patients.[5]
  • Ernest Jones (1913/1951) was the first to construe extreme narcissism as a character flaw.
  • Robert Waelder (1925) published the first case study of narcissism. His patient was a successful scientist with an attitude of superiority, an obsession with fostering self-respect, and a lack of normal feelings of guilt. The patient was aloof and independent from others and had an inability to empathize with others situations, and was selfish sexuality. Waelder's patient was also overly logical and analytical and valued abstract intellectual thought (thinking for thinking's sake) over the practical application of scientific knowledge.

Waelder's case study has been very influential in the way narcissism and the clinical disorder Narcissistic personality disorder are defined today[7]

Characteristics[edit]

Narcissism refers to a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity", which is characterized by feelings of entitlement and superiority, arrogant or haughty behaviors, and a generalized lack of empathy and concern for others.[2]Narcissism is an essential component of mature self-esteem and basic self-worth.[8][9][10]

In essence, narcissistic behavior are a system of intrapersonal and interpersonal strategies devoted to protecting one's self-esteem.[11]

Narcissism is not necessarily 'good' or 'bad', it depends on the contexts and outcomes being measured. In certain social contexts such as initiating social relationships, and with certain outcome variables, such as feeling good about oneself, healthy narcissism can be helpful. In other contexts, such as maintaining long-term relationships and with outcome variables, such as accurate self-knowledge, healthy narcissism can be unhelpful.[12]

Four dimensions of narcissism as a personality variable have been delineated: leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration, and exploitativeness/entitlement.[13]

It has been suggested that healthy narcissism is correlated with good psychological health. Self-esteem works as a mediator between narcissism and psychological health. Therefore, because of their elevated self-esteem, deriving from self-perceptions of competence and likability, high narcissists are relatively free of worry and gloom.[14]

Destructive levels of narcissism[edit]

Narcissism, in and of itself, is a normal personality trait, however, high levels of narcissistic behavior can be damaging and self-defeating.[15] Destructive narcissism is the constant exhibition of a few of the intense characteristics usually associated with pathological Narcissistic personality disorder. On a spectrum, destructive narcissism is more extreme than common narcissism but not as extreme as the pathological condition.[16]

Pathological levels of narcissism[edit]

Main article: Narcissistic personality disorder

Extremely high levels of narcissistic behavior are considered pathological. The pathological condition of narcissism is, as Freud suggested, a magnified, extreme manifestation of healthy narcissism. Freud's idea of narcissism described a pathology which manifests itself in the inability to love others, a lack of empathy, emptiness, boredom, and an unremitting need to search for power, while making the person unavailable to others.[15] The clinical theorists Kernberg, Kohut and Theodore Millon all saw pathological narcissism as a possible outcome in response to unempathic and inconsistent early childhood interactions. They suggested that narcissists try to compensate in adult relationships.[17] German psychoanalyst Karen Horney (1885–1952) also saw the narcissistic personality as a temperament trait molded by a certain kind of early environment.

Heritability[edit]

Heritability studies using twins has shown that narcissistic traits, as measured by standardized tests, are often inherited. Narcissism was found to have a high heritability score (0.64) indicating that the concordance of this trait in the identical twins was significantly influenced by genetics as compared to an environmental causation. It has also been shown that there is a continuum or spectrum of narcissistic traits ranging from normal and a pathological personality.[18]

Examples of narcissistic behaviors[edit]

Sexual narcissism[edit]

Sexual narcissism has been described as an egocentric pattern of sexual behavior that involves an inflated sense of sexual ability or sexual entitlement, sometimes in the form of extramarital affairs. This can be overcompensation for low self-esteem or an inability to sustain true intimacy.[19]

While this behavioral pattern is believed to be more common in men than in women,[20][21] it occurs in both males and females who compensate for feelings of sexual inadequacy by becoming overly proud or obsessed with their masculinity or femininity.[22]

The controversial condition referred to as "sexual addiction" is believed by some experts to be sexual narcissism or sexual compulsivity rather than an addictive behavior.[23]

Parental narcissism[edit]

Main article: Narcissistic parents

Narcissistic parents can see their children as extensions of themselves and encourage the children to act in ways that support the parents' emotional and self-esteem needs.[24] Due to their vulnerability, children may be significantly affected by this behavior.[25] To meet the parents needs, the child may sacrifice their own wants and feelings.[26] A child subjected to this type of parenting may struggle in adulthood with their intimate relationships.[27]

In extreme situations, this parenting style can result in estranged relationships with the children, coupled with feelings of resentment and in some cases, self-destructive tendencies.[24]

Workplace narcissism[edit]

  • Professionals. There is a compulsion of some professionals to constantly assert their competence, even when they are wrong.[28][29] Professional narcissism can lead otherwise capable, and even exceptional, professionals to fall into narcissistic traps. "Most professionals work on cultivating a self that exudes authority, control, knowledge, competence and respectability. It's the narcissist in us all—we dread appearing stupid or incompetent."[28]
  • Executives. are often provided with potential narcissistic triggers:
* inanimate – status symbols like company cars, company-issued smartphone, or prestigious offices with window views; and
* animate – flattery and attention from colleagues and subordinates.[30]: 143 
Narcissism, has been linked to a range of potential leadership problems ranging from poor motivational skills to risky decision making, and in extreme cases, white collar crime.[31] Some high-profile corporate leaders literally have only one thing on their minds: profits. Such a narrow focus actually may yield positive short-term benefits, but ultimately it drags down individual employees as well as entire companies.[32]
Subordinates may find everyday offers of support swiftly turn them into enabling sources, unless they are very careful to maintain proper boundaries.[30]: 143, 181 
Studies examining the role of personality in the rise to leadership have shown that individuals who rise to leadership positions can be described as inter-personally dominant, extroverted, and socially skilled.[31] When examining the correlation of narcissism in the rise to leadership positions, narcissists who are often inter-personally dominant, extroverted, and socially skilled, were also likely to rise to leadership but were more likely to emerge as leaders in situations where they were not known, such as in outside hires (versus internal promotions). Paradoxically, narcissism can present as characteristics that facilitate an individual's rise to leadership and ultimately lead that person under achieve or even to fail.[31]
  • General workforce. Narcissism can create problems in the general workforce. For example, individuals high in narcissism inventories are more likely to engage in counterproductive behavior that harms organizations or other people in the workplace).[33] Aggressive (and counterproductive) behaviors tend to surface when self-esteem is threatened.[34][35] Individuals high in narcissism have fragile self-esteem and are easily threatened. One study found that employees who are high on narcissism are more likely to perceive the behaviors of others in the workplace as abusive and threatening than individuals who are low on narcissism.[36]

Celebrity narcissism[edit]

Celebrity narcissism (sometimes referred to as Acquired situational narcissism) is a form of narcissism that develops in late adolescence or adulthood, brought on by wealth, fame and the other trappings of celebrity. Celebrity narcissism develops after childhood and is triggered and supported by the celebrity-obsessed society. Fans, assistants and tabloid media all play into the idea that the person really is vastly more important than other people, triggering a narcissistic problem that might have been only a tendency, or latent, and helping it to become a full-blown personality disorder. "Robert Millman says that what happens to celebrities is that they get so used to people looking at them that they stop looking back at other people."[37] In its most extreme presentation and symptoms, it is indistinguishable from narcissistic personality disorder, differing only in its late onset and its environmental support by large numbers of fans. "The lack of social norms, controls, and of people centering them makes these people believe they're invulnerable,"[38] so that the person may suffer from unstable relationships, substance abuse or erratic behaviours.

Collective narcissism[edit]

Main article: Collective narcissism

Collective narcissism is a type of narcissism where an individual has an inflated self-love of his or her own group.[39] While the classic definition of narcissism focuses on the individual, collective narcissism asserts that one can have a similar excessively high opinion of a group, and that a group can function as a narcissistic entity.[39] Collective narcissism is related to ethnocentrism; however, ethnocentrism primarily focuses on self-centeredness at an ethnic or cultural level, while collective narcissism is extended to any type of ingroup beyond just cultures and ethnicities.[39][40]

Narcissistic trends in society[edit]

According to recent cultural criticism, Narcissus has replaced Oedipus as the myth of our time. Narcissism is now seen to be at the root of everything from the ill-fated romance with violent revolution to the enthralled mass consumption of state-of-the-art products and the 'lifestyles of the rich and famous'.

Jessica Benjamin (2000), "The Oedipal Riddle," p. 233[41]

Some critics contend that the American populace has become increasingly more narcissistic since the end of World War II.[42][43][44][45] People compete mightily for attention. In social situations they tend to steer the conversation away from others and toward themselves. The profusion of popular literature about "listening" and "managing those who talk constantly about themselves" suggests its pervasiveness in everyday life.[46] This claim is substantiated by the growth of "reality TV" programs,[42] the growth of an online culture in which digital media, social media and the desire for fame are generating a "new era of public narcissism."[47]

Also supporting the contention that American culture has become more narcissistic is an analysis of US popular song lyrics between 1987 and 2007. This found a growth in the use of first-person singular pronouns, reflecting a greater focus on the self, and also of references to antisocial behavior; during the same period, there was a diminution of words reflecting a focus on others, positive emotions, and social interactions.[48][49] Similar patterns of change in cultural production are observable in other Western states. A linguistic analysis of the largest circulation Norwegian newspaper found that the use of self-focused and individualistic terms increased in frequency by 69 per cent between 1984 and 2005 while collectivist terms declined by 32 per cent.[50] References to narcissism and self-esteem in American popular print media have experienced vast inflation since the late 1980s.[49] Between 1987 and 2007 direct mentions of self-esteem in leading US newspapers and magazines increased by 4,540 per cent while narcissism, which had been almost non-existent in the press during the 1970s, was referred to over 5,000 times between 2002 and 2007.[49]

Sorokowski et al. (2015) showed that narcissism is related to the frequency of posting selfie-type pictures on social media. Sorokowski's study showed that this relationship was stronger among men than women.[51]

One study looked at differences in advertising products between an individualistic culture, America, and a collectivist one, South Korea. In American magazine advertisements, it found, there was a greater tendency to stress the distinctiveness and uniqueness of the person; conversely the South Korean ones stressed the importance of social conformity and harmony.[50] This observation holds true for a cross-cultural analysis across a wide range of cultural outputs where individualistic national cultures produce more individualistic cultural products and collectivist national cultures produce more collectivist national products; these cultural effects were greater than the effects of individual differences within national cultures.[50]

Impact on evolution[edit]

Narcissism plays a role in evolution through the process of assortative mating or the non-random choice of a partner for purposes of procreation.

Humans mate assortatively regarding age, IQ, height, weight, nationality, educational and occupational level, physical and personality characteristics, and family relatedness.[52] In the "self seeking like" hypothesis, individuals unconsciously look for a "mirror image" of themselves in others, seeking criteria of beauty or reproductive fitness in the context of self-reference. Alvarez et al. found that facial resemblance between couples was a strong driving force among the mechanisms of assortative mating: human couples resemble each other significantly more than would be expected from random pair formation.[53] Since facial characteristics are known to be inherited, the "self seeking like" mechanism may enhance reproduction between genetically similar mates, favoring the stabilization of genes supporting social behavior, with no kin relationship among them.

Controversies[edit]

There has been an increased interest in narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in the last 10 years. There are areas of substantial debate that surround the subject including:

  • clearly defining the difference between normal and pathological narcissism
  • understanding the role of self-esteem in narcissism,
  • finding consensus on classifications and definitions of sub-types such as "grandiose" and "vulnerable dimensions" or variants of the these,
  • understanding what are the central versus peripheral, primary versus secondary features/characteristics of narcissism,
  • determining if there is consensual description,
  • agreeing on the etiological factors,
  • deciding what field or discipline should narcissism be studied,
  • agreeing on how it can be assessed/measured, and
  • agreeing on its representation in textbooks and classification manuals.[54]

This extent of the controversy was on public display in 2010-2013 when the committee on personality disorders for the 5th Edition (2013) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recommended the removal of Narcissistic Personality from the manual. A contentious three year debate unfolded in the clinical community with one of the sharpest critics being professor John Gunderson, MD , the person who led the DSM personality disorders committee for the 4th edition of the manual.[55]

In popular culture[edit]

See also: Category:Narcissism in fiction

  • Game of Thrones series and television adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Lannisters have been deemed a "family of narcissists".[56] Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Colleen Jordan has said the incestuous twins Cersei and Jaime have a combination of borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, and their younger brother Tyrion is an alcoholic narcissist.[57][56] Additionally, a clinical psychologist posted as Redditor Rain12913: "People seem to be falling into the trap of thinking that Cersei really does genuinely love her brother and her (late) children. While she certainly says that she does quite a bit, and while her behaviour may seem to suggest that she does, it is highly unlikely that such a narcissistic character is capable of true love."[58] About the family's patriarch, Jordan observes that "Tywin Lannister is actually the worst of them".[56]
    • Of Lord Petyr Baelish (nicknamed "Littlefinger") Jordan observes: "If you look at Littlefinger, we know he's not remotely personally interested in Lysa, but he likes the attention. And he needs her. Narcissists use people for functions, which he does.".[56]
  • Suzanne Stone-Maretto, Nicole Kidman's character in the film To Die For (1995), wants to appear on television at all costs, even if this involves murdering her husband. A psychiatric assessment of her character noted that she "was seen as a prototypical narcissistic person by the raters: on average, she satisfied 8 of 9 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder... had she been evaluated for personality disorders, she would receive a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder".[59]
  • Jay Gatsby, the eponymous character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby (1925), "an archetype of self-made American men seeking to join high society", has been described as a "pathological narcissist" for whom the "ego-ideal" has become "inflated and destructive" and whose "grandiose lies, poor sense of reality, sense of entitlement, and exploitive treatment of others" conspire toward his own demise.[60]
  • Maisie Farange, in Henry James' novel What Maisie Knew (1897), is neglected by her vain and self-absorbed parents. After her parents divorce, find new partners, and ultimately cheat again on their new partners, Maisie finally decides to move in with the morally strong family maid.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  60. ^Mitchell, Giles. "The Great Narcissist: A Study of Fitzgerald's Gatsby, by Giles Mitchell". fitzgerald.narod.ru. Retrieved 22 October 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Blackburn, Simon, Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014)
  • Twenge, Jean M.; Campbell, W., Keith The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009)
  • Hotchkiss, Sandy; Masterson, James F., Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)
  • Brown, Nina W., Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents (2008)
  • McFarlin, Dean, Where Egos Dare: The Untold Truth About Narcissistic Leaders – And How to Survive Them (2002)
  • Brown, Nina W., The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern (1998)
  • Golomb, Elan, Trapped in the Mirror – Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle for Self (1995)
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